The weekend following the Queen’s Jubilee, 8th – 10th July, saw Ian Graham, the designer, builder, broker and maintainer of Wilderness boats for over five decades, holding a belated 70th birthday party for many of his friends at his house near Semington, Wiltshire. Also at the party were a number of “his” trailboats, being used in “caravan” mode located outside his house or on the water on the nearby Kennet and Avon canal, at the other end of the village.
Due to poor weather this summer, Ian had laid on marquees and tent cover for his friends and the Jazz band, as well as a BBQ and drinks for the many who attended. After such a wet week leading up to the event, the day turned out warm and dry so most of the cover was not required.
After lunch Ian led a group of friends down through Semington village to the Kennent & Avon canal and showed them the old junction to the Wilts and Berks and where the proposed one will be constructed. Then a short way up the canal, he showed us the location of his new workshop within the newly upgraded and solar powered Semington Dock, which includes a new slipway built to IWA standards and two dry docks for narrowboat repairs.
During Saturday afternoon, Ian welcomed people to the party. Following this, the presents bought with money donated by many WBOC members and a card showing those who had donated towards them, were given to Ian. Those presents included: A new “Dunston Double” aluminium windlass; a case of Pale cream sherry; 7 DVD sets of canal journeys around Britain; a new Nicolson’s UK canal planner and an enamel coffee pot and mug painted by a local canal artist. Ian was very appreciative and touched by all of the gifts and good wishes.
The evening included music by a Jazz band, an ode to Ian by Eric Firth and a fire eating show. Other music and disco lights were provided by another WBOC member, Derek and Jeanne Smith direct from their boat dry “moored” next to the main marquee.
Happy birthday Ian and thanks for all the Water Rats, Water Gypsys, Otters, Beavers and their offspring that have given the crews so much fun.